K9 lifeguards are used by the Italian Coast Guard and may leap from helicopters or speeding boats to assist swimmers in need. Before they can jump from moving transporters, Newfoundland dogs must have completed at least three years of training and are regarded as experienced rescuers.
These dogs can easily paddle to shore with a person due to their incredible power and swimming prowess. They can tow a buoy or a raft across to the individual in distress if they are wearing appropriate harnesses. Over 300 dogs patrol the beaches of Italy, which attract millions of visitors each summer. Every year, the Italian Coast Guard claims to save around 3,000 people, with their canine companions credited with saving numerous lives.
This video shows these incredible canines jumping from a rescue aircraft.
“Dogs are useful in containing the physical fatigue of the lifeguard, increasing the speed at which casualties are retrieved, and increasing the security of both the casualty and the lifeguard,” says Roberto Gasbarri, who coordinates the program at one of the ten schools (called the Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio ). The dog takes on the role of an intelligent lifebuoy. It’s a buoy that goes to a person in need of assistance on its own and then returns to the shore on his own, choosing the finest landing spot and swimming through the safest currents.”
Because of their innate propensity for swimming and their size, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are also trained alongside Newfoundlands. Many trainers claim that the dogs retrieve naturally and regard it as a pastime rather than work.
In the video below, Great Big Story illustrates the work of these canine lifeguards.
Here’s a 24-minute documentary that takes a “deep dive” into how these dogs and people learn to be lifeguards.